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A Reimagined Ranch House: An Artist’s Family Home, Ikea Kitchen and DIY Bath Ideas Included

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A Reimagined Ranch House: An Artist’s Family Home, Ikea Kitchen and DIY Bath Ideas Included

February 11, 2019

“If you had known in advance all that your house would require—three move-out renovations in seven years—would you still have bought it?” Maya Schindler has come to see her Long Island, New York, ranch house as a member of her posse and her devotion to it is unwavering. Especially now that it’s been tailor-remade for her and her family: husband, Ranaan Schul, and their kids, Naomi and Mikael.

Maya is a painter/installation artist and Ranaan is a mathematician—they met in high school in Jerusalem and have been together since they were 19; they’re both full-time professors at Stony Brook University. They came to this country as graduate students (she has an MFA and he a PhD from Yale), and moved to Long Island from LA for their jobs. After initially hunting for a Victorian fixer-upper, they fell for the humble ranch thanks to its proximity to a nature preserve and possibilities: they were looking forward to having kids and liked the idea of living in close quarters: “I wanted us all to be together in a common space,” says Maya.

The couple took on the first renovation themselves in 2010: while living in a rental, they tore down walls, installed a kitchen, and laid wooden floors—”plywood was all we could afford,” says Maya. “We definitely committed sins, but we’re both handy—in my student job at Yale I learned how to put up Sheetrock.” Naomi was born six months after they moved in, and just as she was starting to crawl, Hurricane Sandy wrecked the interior (“it was only ten inches of water, but just enough to mess everything up”). While staying in another rental, they hired a local contractor to replace wet drywall, shore up the floors, and redo the two bathrooms. Then they heard about New York Rising, a state reconstruction program offering financial assistance for flood proofing, an extreme measure that, as crazy as it sounded at the time, they knew would be providential.

After a year of filling out forms, they found themselves again camped in a rental—this time for 11 months and with two young kids—while their ranch was literally suspended and then rebuilt again. We heard about their saga from Michael and Lisa Fine of Quiet Town, who got to know Maya when she ordered accessories for their V3 bathrooms. The Fines led the way to #6ftuphouse, as Maya dubbed the raised structure, and Michael, a fashion photographer, captured it for us.

Photography by Michael Fine.

the house was built in \1939 as a one bedroom summer cabin and added on to five 9
Above: The house was built in 1939 as a one-bedroom summer cabin and added on to five times over the decades—meaning there were five foundations to contend with during the flood proofing (scroll to the end to see more exteriors). Mika, the family’s golden retriever, is shown here on the upgraded back porch. The Great South Bay,  between Long Island and Fire Island, is less than a mile away.

The setting is what made flood proofing worthwhile: “We knew that these days we’d never be permitted to build so close to wetland. So it was a question of walking away or using what we had,” says Maya. “We decided to save the house.”

viewed from the bedroom hall, the large main room is divided between kitchen (r 10
Above: Viewed from the bedroom hall, the large main room is divided between kitchen (right) and living area (left). Maya and Ranaan took out the attic and installed the beams—with assistance—during the first renovation. (The small preserved section of attic contains the house’s HVAC systems.)

Maya is a collector of many things, including modernist lighting, and loves chasing down a bargain: she bought her Panton Topan Pendant for $35 on eBay years ago.

the pair of donald judd style daybeds came from live auctioneers, an online auc 11
Above: The pair of Donald Judd-style daybeds came from Live Auctioneers, an online auction house consortium that’s one of Maya’s current favorite sources. They were a $200 gamble—”I bought them without seeing them firsthand and had to pay $400 for shipping; they were so worth it.”

The wood stove is a Jotul Black Bear, one of the Norwegian company’s original models: “I wanted something old-fashioned and in one unit; it’s skinny and long and also extremely efficient; instead of a stone hearth, it rests on a steel base I had made.” The Marshmallow Sofa, an LA Craig’s List find, stands under an Anders Pehrson Bumling brass light.

 maya replaced the daybed&#8\2\17;s \1960s base cushions with her own: she 12
Above: Maya replaced the daybed’s 1960s base cushions with her own: she wrapped drop cloths and sheepskins around foam bases inexpensively ordered from a local nautical upholsterer. The throw pillows are modern Marimekko designs. For more Donald Judd-style daybeds, see 7 Favorites.

The house’s doors and windows, all installed during the recent overhaul, are from Andersen’s A-Series. “We wanted the biggest windows we could afford,” explains Maya. “One of the house’s appeals was its many windows, but there were six different sizes; they’re now the same window on repeat.”

during the flood proofing, the house was lifted and the family watched as their 13
Above: During the flood proofing, the house was lifted and the family watched as their floors were “literally cut out with a jigsaw.” They were replaced with four-inch white oak planks that are finished with a Woca white lye (Maya’s friends Juli Daoust and John Baker of Mjölk advised her, and we, too, have turned to them for Whitewashed Scandi Floor Specs). They also took the opportunity to install radiant floor heating. “If were going to go through this another frigging time,” Maya tells us, “we were going to do it right.”

She worked with “the nicest, most honest, and talented contractor around here, Scott Cargill” of Scott J. Cargill Construction.

the kitchen, formerly set along the back window wall, was replaced with a \13.6 14
Above: The kitchen, formerly set along the back window wall, was replaced with a 13.6-foot-long, 4-foot-wide floating island composed of Ikea drawers with Ringhult fronts and a waterfall counter of honed Olympian Danby marble quarried in Vermont and sourced locally at Gem Marble. Maya, an avid cook, explains that rather than having her back to the room, she wanted to face the action. “I also wasn’t willing to sacrifice any windows; we wanted the cross breeze.”

The fridge is set in a niche built out with Ikea storage cabinets and Ringhult doors that Maya and her contractor redesigned to work. Maya’s collection of vintage Kaj Franck enameled bowls by Finel Arabia fit perfectly on the top. The first one came from her grandmother, a fellow Scandinavian design lover. The bowls are widely available on Etsy and eBay, but hard to come by at Maya’s cutoff of no more than $30 each.

the drawers have ikea blankett pulls, now discontinued (for something similar,  15
Above: The drawers have Ikea Blankett pulls, now discontinued (for something similar, try their Billsbro pulls). A sardine packing case found in a vintage store serves as a countertop catchall: “it’s where the kids’ loose toy pieces get scooped.”

Maya notes that the building code required electrical outlets at the end of the island: “I didn’t want to have an outlet in the waterfall piece, so I opted to extend the island six inches and the outlets are inset on the window side; it ended up being such a practical solution.”

outsized cutting boards at the ready: they&#8\2\17;re put to constant use f 16
Above: Outsized cutting boards at the ready: they’re put to constant use for prepping and serving food on the marble counter.
the family&#8\2\17;s vintage 8 foot saarinen tulip table is yet another cra 17
Above: The family’s vintage 8-foot Saarinen Tulip Table is yet another Craig’s List purchase. Maya bought it during the third renovation and stored it in a greenhouse at their rental house where she refinished the wood top herself with a sanding and a light wax finish.

As for the Eames Molded Plastic Chairs, they came out of a school in Southern California: “They were being tossed, so I grabbed them, but they had student bases with tables. Removing the bases made them easier to transport; I’ve had them for years and finally put them to use—with vintage legs found on Etsy.” The Ant Chairs are part of a set of four that Maya found at a Long Island estate sale for $13, “not each but total; they’re my all-time biggest score.”

&#8\2\20;i love patterns but they&#8\2\17;re hard to commit to; blanket 18
Above: “I love patterns but they’re hard to commit to; blankets make it easy and I see them as heirlooms,” says Maya of her stacked collection. They’re displayed on an Eames Wire-Based Low Table in a corner of the living room to supply not only color but soundproofing: “It’s a big open space and I was worried about echoes.”
the library opens off the foyer detailed with a \1960s hustadt leuchten ceiling 19
Above: The library opens off the foyer detailed with a 1960s Hustadt Leuchten ceiling light. Maya collected her trio of vintage Nelson Bubble Lamps one by one over many years: “I don’t look for them, but when they come to me, I buy them.”

The room is used for reading, phone conversations, and workouts on a wooden rowing machine. The Eames Lounge Chair was a birthday present bought at a Long Island antiques store. The metal shelving units are Ikea’s Fjalkinge design.

the master bedroom has the one window that wasn&#8\2\17;t replaced. the bla 20
Above: The master bedroom has the one window that wasn’t replaced. The blanket was found in a thrift store in Maine. Maya’s electrician salvaged the Viscontea Pendant Light from another client’s dumpster. It hangs here as sculpture.
maya&#8\2\17;s marimekko paddleboard is from the design house&#8\2\17;s 21
Above: Maya’s Marimekko paddleboard is from the design house’s 2016 collection for Target. (She actually uses it in the nearby bay). That’s a Dyson Air Multiplier Table Fan on the window bench.
the third house overhaul gave maya the chance to rethink every room, including  22
Above: The third house overhaul gave Maya the chance to rethink every room, including the just remade bathrooms. The master bath was given a new tile floor, skylight, and vintage fittings: the clawfoot tub and sink came out of a Connecticut house that was being updated.

Her shower curtain is Quiet Town’s Sun Shower in Phlox: see Radical Transparency, New Shower Curtains from a Brooklyn Maker.

maya sanded the exterior of the tub—&#8\2\2\1;it was cream and green& 23
Above: Maya sanded the exterior of the tub—”it was cream and green”—and sealed it in its raw state.

Above L: The DIY copper sink and shower fixtures were a collaboration between Maya and her plumber. The Ypperlig Mirror is by Hay Design for Ikea. Above R: Maya found the shower head on eBay: “I wanted something very simple in copper, which is hard to find. It’s made for outdoor showers.”

in the kids&#8\2\17; room, toe to toe beds and a patchwork of moroccan bouc 26
Above: In the kids’ room, toe-to-toe beds and a patchwork of Moroccan boucherouite rugs found on eBay and on visits to Israel. They’re made of woven cotton rags and are washable.
previously located where the dining table now stands, the kids&#8\2\17;/gue 27
Above: Previously located where the dining table now stands, the kids’/guest bath was relocated alongside the bedrooms. The house’s new windows are 2 feet off the floor and 5 feet tall. The bathmat is Quiet Town’s Mendocino rug.
as in the master bath: a salvaged sink, diy copper faucet, and ypperlig mirror. 28
Above: As in the master bath: a salvaged sink, DIY copper faucet, and Ypperlig Mirror.
maya fashioned the tp holder from a rubber coated hook and hardware store twist 29
Above: Maya fashioned the TP holder from a rubber-coated hook and hardware store twist tie (“for things like bundling garden hoses; my kids use them to make crowns”).

The Exterior

the house in february. during the initial remodel, the vinyl siding was removed 30
Above: The house in February. During the initial remodel, the vinyl siding was removed; red cedar shakes were introduced in phase three. “They’re in tune with the location and its history,” says Maya.
the ranch now rests on concrete pilings. 31
Above: The ranch now rests on concrete pilings.
maya had the shed built several years ago as her studio—&#8\2\2\1;it& 32
Above: Maya had the shed built several years ago as her studio—”it’s 120 square feet, the maximum allowed without a permit.” It’s just been joined by a 400-square-foot studio in the extended lower level of the house, under the master bedroom.

In Progress

a look at the raised house during the flood proofing process. the peacock is on 33
Above: A look at the raised house during the flood proofing process. The peacock is one of a flock that live in the neighborhood—the result, says Maya, of some freed pets. “They’re attracted to sound and kept appearing during construction. They like to look at their reflections in the big windows.”

In-House Art Studio

maya&#8\2\17;s flat files have traveled all over with her. &#8\2\20;the 34
Above: Maya’s flat files have traveled all over with her. “They’re huge space takers; at one point they were under the bed.” Here, they’re neatly tucked into a nook in the wall.
a barcelona daybed—&#8\2\2\1;\$\200 on craig&#8\2\17;s list&#8\2\ 35
Above: A Barcelona daybed—”$200 on Craig’s List”—and an old laundry sink with copper piping.
for more homemade taps, see trend alert: \10 faucets made from plumbing parts  36
Above: For more homemade taps, see Trend Alert: 10 Faucets Made from Plumbing Parts and Steal This Look: A Vintage Bath in England.

Take a look at another stylishly flood-proofed family home:

Three standout remodels by artists:

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